But the judge's definition was so convoluted, the jurors likely misunderstood him. Ten years on, Mr. Sheppard was released after a second trial.
When we started Color Accounting twenty years ago, we thought color was the big thing. It still is integral to what we do. By color-coding financial statements we engage people's neurological response to color, thereby achieving accelerated learning.
But now we believe that our innovation around language and deliberate - and sometimes atypical - use of words is an even bigger deal.
For example, when people grasp what “revenue", “expense”, and “equity” really are (and are not), it opens a massive door to clarity of financial thought and access to powerful communication.
The lawyer of an accountant on trial for revenue shifting told me that, even when handing down their guilty verdict, the jury didn’t clearly know what “revenue” was. They thought it was money. And vaguely thought he'd nefariously put it under a mattress or similar. The lawyer believed that his client may have been imprisoned because of this confusion.
If the jury had better appreciated how gray rather than black and white the issue of revenue recognition is, they may have had reasonable doubt.
Clearly, words change lives.